Prioritize Your Work: Do Not Confuse Busyness with Business

You often hear you need to prioritize your work to be more effective. You may even believe you are one person who can prioritize very well. But think again, how much do you get completed in a day? Do you leave work feeling you have done a lot but more seems to be needed to be done?

Take a long hard look at yourself if you feel there is some truth to how you prioritize your work.

Do you confuse what you do as business while all you have been doing is busyness? What is the difference you ask? One is doing what the work truly entails and needs. That is business. Another is doing all sorts of activities that makes you looks busy but hardly makes an impact on your career or even project.

Busyness is what gives you the perception you are doing your work but really what you are doing is simply empty work. Things like doing the not urgent and not important things on your to do list when you should really attend to the urgent and important, important but not urgent and the urgent and not important things first.

It is likely you procrastinate because the other three sections of work are on your hate to do list. This means they do not bring you any joy at work at all. It may include having to deal with a tough client. So you delay doing that. You attend to the most menial of work. It’s still work so you have an excuse to feel better about yourself. But that shows you don’t prioritize your work well.

Meanwhile, the important things gets added. And as with work, Murphy’s Law will take over and the urgent things will also get added. If you are unlucky, the important and urgent will pile up. You leave work everyday telling your colleagues and family your work is never done. Your boss never appreciates you.

Guess what? That is because you do not prioritize your work well. If you do what needs to be done regardless whether you enjoy the particular task or not then you start to work on the business. Not busyness. People who are successful are those who prioritize their work well. They do what needs to be done first as what Stephen R. Covey said, First Things First (Paperback).

Prioritize your work, start to work on things that are productive and contribute to your work. So, you won’t end up tired and not knowing what you have done at the end of the day. Be the person who is able to check off your to do list well especially in the columns that matters such as – important and urgent, important but not urgent and urgent but not important, in that order.

Some of you may be surprised why is it that items important but not urgent is more crucial than urgent but not important. The reason is when you procrastinate on the important but not urgent, it eventually catches up to be in the important and urgent column. So, before it catches up – do it first.

Be brutal to yourself once - does what you do everyday at work contributes significantly to your career? If you do the busyness thing, it likely does not. Do you lie to yourself that you are very good at your work but deep inside you know you do not prioritize your work well? Take the small steps now to do the first thing first. It’s the small thing that will make a big impact in your career.

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For more recommended readings on how to prioritize your work, click here.

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